Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions
- ISBN: 9780801049699
- Published By: Baker Academic
- Published: August 2017
The greatest challenge faced by published dictionaries in the digital age is undoubtedly the competition of free online resources such as Wikipedia. It is therefore a thrill to come across the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions by Baker Academic, which far exceeded my expectations and proves the value of encyclopedia resources written and developed by professionals in the academy. Edited by Timothy J. Wengert, the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Tradition is an invaluable resource for students, pastors, and even veteran scholars of Luther and Lutheran traditions.
The Dictionary of Luther excels by bringing a broad range of content that effectively covers not only the life of Martin Luther and the remainder of the early-modern era, but also the global expansion of Lutheran traditions in the following centuries. All of this content benefits greatly from the truly impressive number of scholars who contributed to this volume. This allows for the work to make meaningful contributions beyond what the reader would easily be able to uncover using other resources. The prime examples of this are those entries that touch on subjects, places, and ideas so unique to the history of Luther and Lutheran traditions that even an internet search does not turn up results. For example, there are no English resources available online for Teodors Grinbergs, the first Latvian Lutheran archbishop, but the Dictionary of Luther includes a brief biography.
The knowledge of the authors within this volume also allows the work to speak authoritatively even on subjects that are well covered by other resources. The entries for subjects such as “Catholicism,” “Gospel,” and “Household” offer excellent introductions to these subjects as they relate to Luther and Lutheran traditions while also providing a bibliography that allows for further research. Finally, the breadth of the global coverage of varying Lutheran traditions is incredibly helpful. There are a large number of entries dealing with the expansion of Lutheranism to India, South America, and southeast Asia, with additional entries on the figures involved in these expansions, including both missionaries and local leadership. This emphasis on the global expansion of Luther’s ideas and thought and their diverse reception is evident even in the title of the work, which deliberately chooses the plural “Lutheran traditions” over the singular “Lutheranism.”
Overall, the Dictionary of Luther and the Lutheran Traditions is an incredibly valuable work that should be utilized by anyone exploring, studying, or writing on these topics. The volume could perhaps benefit from a table of contents, but the addition of an index is very helpful and undoubtedly was no easy task to compile. For trained scholars, students beginning to explore the impact of Luther’s movement, and even lay audiences interested in the history of Luther and Lutheran traditions, this is an exceptional work at a surprisingly affordable price.
Timothy J. Orr is assistant professor of history at Simpson University.Timothy J. OrrDate Of Review:December 6, 2017